An American manicure is a style of manicure in which the tips of the nails are painted a soft ivory color, and the rest of the nail is painted a neutral shade or a very pale pink. This style of manicure is designed to make the nails look most natural, and is often referenced in comparison to a French manicure. In order to understand the difference, it is best to consider what a French manicure traditionally looks like.
Both of these manicures are typically done on longer nails, or on acrylic or gel nails that are applied to the natural nails to make them look longer. In a French manicure, the tip of the nail is painted a bright white, and the nail is painted a soft pink, often with a bit of shine added. The bright white nail tips are the characteristic marker of a French manicure; though the style is classic and very popular, some people believe that it can look fake and very unnatural, and prefer the American manicure style instead.
As mentioned above, rather than painting the nail tips bright white, in an American manicure the nail tips are painted in a soft ivory color to match the color of the natural nail. The nail bed may also be painted a more neutral, flesh-toned color to make it look more natural as well, but this varies depending on one's preference and the nail technician's idea. In general, a French manicure is preferred for special events where one wants to look very dressy, such as a wedding, for example. An American manicure, on the other hand, can be a great versatile look and can be worn for either special occasions or everyday wear.
In each style of manicure, the nails are painted with a clear top coat to make them look shiny and to make the polish last longer. When acrylic nails are used for an American manicure, the nail technician will typically use clear acrylic that is then painted when it has hardened. For a French manicure, the option exists to use pink and white acrylic, and then only a clear topcoat will be needed; this type of French manicure typically lasts the longest, because the white tips will not chip as easily.
Whenever one is getting a French manicure or American manicure at a salon, it is important to be sure the salon is clean and the instruments are sterilized. Powered instruments should not be used on the natural nails, such as those that grind away the top layer of nail. If a cut to the cuticle or finger occurs, be sure to wash it out right away, and cover it to prevent infection.